Misadventures with Miso

Misadventures with Miso

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Returning from Trip Number Ten

So time for that last blog post, of traveling from Japan to the US. Starting with Ikebukuro Station. 

I took the N'EX train again and they gave me the same seat that I had when I came to Tokyo. Interesting coincidence. 

Obligatory Sky Tree photo. 

Extra nice Sky Tree photo. 

I think this was the Arakawa River. I keep trying to get a photo of it, and finally one that isn't blurry. 

An amazing thing happened as we were rolling towards Narita Airport. 

The sky began to clear a bit. 

And became beautiful with white fluffy clouds and sun. 

Since I wanted to show what it's like on the way to Narita, I took a number of photos of the farms along the way. 

There is also a bit of woods and grassy areas. 

Out at Narita waiting for the plane on the left and feeling envious that I couldn't stay and enjoy the better weather. 

One bonus was being able to see below as we took off. Something I had not seen before as we left the gate was the ground crew waving and then bowing to us as we moved to the runway. 

And goodbye Japan. I hope I will be seeing you again soon. 

The eletronic window shades in the plane gave me a chance to take a few above the cloud photos with less glare. A bit of shine from the sun on the ocean below.

And just before descending through the clouds to land in Canada. 

Checking out a display of a spirit mask at Vancouver International Airport. 

It is a transformation mask by Kwakwaa'wakw artist Stan Wamiss, of the trickster hero Raven when the beak is closed and of Bakwas, a wild man of the forest, when the beak is open. These are spirits of the Pacific Northwest tribes.

 Not a lot of choices for food in the US part of the terminal. After having a long delay due to some odd new baggage screening process by US Customs, which was poorly handled, I finally was able to get something to eat. So it was back to Canucks and a Canadian brewed lager.

I chose fish tacos but forgot to ask if they used corn tortillas. I'm not terribly picky about my food but flour tortillas do not cut it with fish tacos. They fall apart and do not have that nice flavor that compliments the fish, crema, salsa and cabbage. I also prefer non-breaded fish but at this point, I was not going to complain. They were good, just miss having tortillas that don't fall apart from the moisture. I need to plan better if I fly through Vancouver again.

Finally back to Portland, Oregon. I'm sad I didn't get a better photo of the Lego Multnomah Falls. I was told it is going to be removed for a large statue of Sasquatch. It would be nice if they could find a good place for the Falls, it's a favorite of a lot of people who travel through the airport.

And over the Steel Bridge across the Willamette River. That's the Fremont Bridge in the distance. On the right is the TEMCO grain elevator and terminal. It was built in 1960 and still handles tons of grain, like corn, wheat and soybeans. 

And that is the end of my tenth trip to Japan.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Waiting for the Dark Elves at the Vampire Cafe

Continuing their special menus for Moi-même-Moitié's 20th Anniversary, Vampire Cafe offered up two new drinks and a new pasta dish for July and August.

So at the end of my July trip I found myself once again in the den of darkness.

This time my dining companion was the new acrylic EGA Mana.

I started with the non-alcoholic drink "A bloody tragedy of love and madness swirling at night on prom". Created by Mana, it's a mix of Calpis (Calpico) and lemon juice, into which you pour tomato juice. Since I had never tried Calpis before, this was something new for me. I wasn't sure at first but the sweet and sour taste of this drink won me over.

It was topped with a blue jelly rose which glowed as it floated on top of the Calpis and tomato swirl. The effect of the tomato juice seeping down into the Calpis reminded me of the movie "Carrie". I'm not sure if that was the movie reference for this drink, but it seems appropriate.

The second drink looked amazing in person. "The frenzy of blood starved zombies reviving in Matul" is a reference to the movie "Sangeria" also known as "Zombi 2". 

This Mana created drink was made with rum, Malibu coconut rum, milk and pineapple juice. Into which you get to pour blue caracao. Since the light inside the drink was blue, the color did not change much. It was really pretty to look at. This was my second Mana pineapple drink at Vampire Cafe this trip. The first was pineapple juice and blue caracao, and possibly either Calpis or milk. Sweetly bitter, which I believe was the effect that was desired. Some of Mana's drinks are like this. It is a taste that some are not use to in drinks, but bitters are used in other countries to flavor mixed drinks, so it is not unusual there.

My last choice for the evening was the special pasta dish "Dark elves dancing in the white night in a rose garden dripping with pleasure".

This was a cold dish for the hot summer weather. Steamed chicken with pasta in a yogurt sauce that gave a pleasant sour taste which reminded me of Greek cuisine. The blue rose was made of daikon radish and added to that summery feeling. If I made this I might have added more parsley or even dill to it. Still it was good. I was surprised with all the dairy in the drinks and this dish that I was able to eat all of this and not feel uncomfortable. I think that speaks to the quality of ingredients that are used. This was a very nice meal and service was great. My compliments to the excellent host Vampire Rose, the staff and chefs, and of course to Mana.

This menu is still available till the end of August. While reservations are good to have, I have found that by going early in the week and at the time they open, they do usually have tables available.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Seeking Kaminarimon

Since I was in Asakusa, I decided to get a few more photos for that map. Like the time when I was here before, there were rickshaw. It was good to see there were a lot more female drivers now. 

I believe this reads as "Thunder Gate East Section (or Side)". Which is where I wanted to be. Just thought I would show the misters being used to try to cool things down.

And there is the Thunder Gate. Kaminarimon. And a lot of tourists.

The outer gate of Senso-ji Temple was the reason I came here. Originally commissioned around the year 942. It has been rebuilt a number of times because of the many fires that have happened in Tokyo. This current gate was built in 1960. 

As for my current day visit it's because some of the most popular photos of Kami were taken here.

Plus the fact that Kaminarimon is very impressive. The Nio statues guard the temple grounds. This is the god of thunder, Raijin.

And this is the god of wind, Fujin. The gate is 11.7 meters high, so the Nio statues are not small.

The 3.9 meter high chochin (lantern) hangs in the middle. It reads "Thunder Gate".

The underneath wood dragon carving is of another protector of the temple. Definitely look for it if you ever go here.

The back of the gate holds two more statues. They represent dragon gods. This is Tenryu, the heavenly dragon. They were enshrined here in 1978.

This is Kinryu, the golden dragon. The reason for dragons, besides protecting the area, comes from the story of how Kannon Bosatsu became enshrined here. It's a story that is similar to other shrines. Two fishermen were out fishing when a statue became caught in their nets. It was of the Kannon. At that time, a golden dragon appeared in the water. Thus the golden dragon is believed to be the protector of Senso-ji, and the reason for it's full name, Kinryu-zan Senso-ji. Kinryu is golden dragon.

Looking at the back of the chochin. 

And speaking of tourists...

It's the very popular Nakamise Shopping Street. What I didn't notice at the time are the little komainu roof tiles at the roof peaks. Senso-ji is very well protected.

Since I had been to Senso-ji before, and it was extremely crowded, I went to my right instead of staying on Nakamise. Jumbo melon pan anyone?

Along with very fresh fruit.

Which was really delicious.

I headed back to the station through covered shopping streets. I did stop to appreciate this morning glory. That and the fruit were a nice way to end this day.